The College Archives
Frequently asked questions about the College
When did the College start?
It began in 1841 as the Association of Medical Officers of Asylums
and Hospitals for the Insane. It became the Medico-Psychological
Association in 1865, the Royal Medico-Psychological Association in
1926 and the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1971.
What do the symbols on the College Coat of
The arms were originally granted to
the Royal Medico-Psychological Association in 1926, and were
confirmed to the College on its' formation in 1971 by the College
of Arms. They were also registered in Scotland by the Court of the
The coat of arms incorporates the
traditional caduceus and serpents symbolic of Medicine, and the
equally traditional butterflies associated with psyche. Previous to
the grant, the Medico-Psychological Association had used a device
showing the seated Psyche with butterfly's wings.
What does the College do?
It is the professional and educational body for psychiatrists and
organises their qualifying examination, the MRCPsych. It also
organises continuing professional development programmes, promotes
study and research work in psychiatry, aims to improve standards of
education and care and has an extensive range of public education
How many members are there?
About 15,239, including about 2,632 overseas members. They are
all medically qualified and are specialists in psychiatry or
working towards specialising in psychiatry.
What is the College structure?
The College consists of English divisions, Royal College of
Psychiatrists Scotland, Royal College of Psychiatrists Northern
Ireland, and Royal College of Psychiatrists Wales, and specialist
faculties, sections and special interest groups which represent
different branches of psychiatry.
How is the College organised?
The College Officers are the President, Vice-Presidents,
Dean, Registrar and Treasurer. The Officers are usually
practicing clinicians who are willing to commit time to the work of
the College. The main administrative committees are the Court of
Electors, the Council, the Executive and Finance Committee and the
Public Policy Committee and there are other standing committees,
sub-committees, working parties and groups
is it called a College when there aren't any
In this context, 'College' means an organised group of professional
people with particular aims and duties. Many of the medical
specialties have royal colleges as their administrative bodies. The
word royal is used because the College has a royal charter.
Are there any psychiatrists at 17 Belgrave
No, the College is run by administrative staff although many
psychiatrists visit the building for meetings and similar
What are the College departments?
There is the Membership Relations and Divisions, Communications and
Policy, Finance and Operations, Professional Standards,
Publications and Website, and the College Centre for Quality
Improvement (CCQI) and the National Collaborating Centre for Mental
What is the CCQI and NCCMH?
They are units at Standon House, 21 Mansell Street,
London. They do health services research, quality
initiatives, services evaluation and audit projects.
What does the College publish?
The four main psychiatric journals, the British Journal of
Psychiatry, the Psychiatrist, Advances in
Psychiatric Treatment and International Psychiatry. It
publishes books on psychiatry under the Gaskell imprint and issues
guidelines and statements in the form of reports and occasional
papers. It also produces a wide variety of mental health